- Series: MIT Press
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: The MIT Press; Reprint edition (February 26, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0262611465
- ISBN-13: 978-0262611466
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 70 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions Reprint Edition
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Most studies of decision-making treat humans like rats in a laboratory. But Dr. Klein, a cognitive psychologist, spent a decade watching fire commanders, fighter pilots, paramedics, and others making split-second decisions on the job, and this book is a clear and engaging account of his findings.(The Wall Street Journal)
Sources of Power is without a doubt one of the finest works on decision making. A must for anyone responsible for training command and control personnel.(Hugh E. Wood, Program Chair, Emergency Incident Policy and Analysis, National Fire Academy)
Underscoring his points by citing a wide variety of fascinating incidents uncovered during his research, Gary Klein develops an elaborate and plausible model of the decision making of experienced experts. In the process, he makes a convincing case for the study of decision making in naturalistic settings. This study demonstrates the power of recognition-primed action and provides a convincing critique of the real-world validity of the normative decision making produced in laboratory settings.(Hubert L. Dreyfus, Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley and Stuart E. Dreyfus, Professor of Engineering Science, Emeritus, University of California)
Demonstrates the necessity of looking beyond economic and statistical models of decision making for an understanding of real-life decisions, particularly job-related decisions and decisions made in emergencies. The examples are excellent, deriving as they do from the authors extensive research with firefighters and the military.(Lee Roy Beach, Ph.D., McClelland Professor of Management and Policy and Professor of Psychology, College of Business and Public Administration, University of Arizona)
After reading Sources of Power by Gary Klein I have a much better understanding of why and how experienced fire fighters make critical life and death decisions on the fire ground. I also have a better understanding of why new officers may have some problems with decision making. With 26 years as a Los Angeles County Fire Fighter, I have held every rank in the Operations Bureau and have commanded many types of incidents including the 1992 civil disturbance, 1993 firestorms, and the 1994 earthquake. This book has given me new insight on what level of performance I should expect from new company officers and how to improve their performance.(Larry C. Miller, Operations Chief Deputy, Los Angeles County Fire Department)
About the Author
Gary Klein is Senior Scientist at MacroCognition LLC. He is the author of The Power of Intuition, Seeing What Others Don't, Working Minds: A Practitioner's Guide to Cognitive Task Analysis (with Beth Crandall and Robert R. Hoffman), and Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making, the last two published by the MIT Press.
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These sources of power include:
- Intuition depends on the use of experience to recognize key patterns.
- Mental simulation is the ability to imagine people and objects through transformations.
- Spotting leverage points means spotting small changes that can make a big difference.
- Experience can be used to focus attention on key features that novices don't notice.
- Stories bring natural order to unstructured situations and emphasize what is important.
- Metaphors apply familiar experiences to new situations to suggest solutions.
- Communicating intentions in a team helps members "read each other's minds."
- Effective teams evolve a "team mind" with shared knowledge, goals, and identity.
- Rational analysis plays an important role, but can be over applied.
The author spends some time with other theories of decision making, emphasizing both their strengths and the sometimes faulty assumptions they incorporate. He makes good points about the inadequacy of decision bias theories to explain successful, real-world decision processes. Klein describes how artificial intelligence and other computational theories reduce decision making to a search through a well-defined set of alternatives. Most decisions, he argues, are not so well structured.
Klein likes to stay close to his data. The book reflects this in the space given to detailed decision making examples he has used to develop and test his theories. In addition to a traditional Table of Contents and lists of Tables and Figures, there is also a list of fifty-two Examples, allowing readers quick access to these cases. Klein also links his theories back to decision making contexts he expects readers to encounter. Each chapter ends with an Applications section that identifies practical implications for decisions out there in the world.
This is a thought-provoking book, grounded in both applied research and practical experience. It is profitable reading for anyone who strives to make better decisions.
The only thing missing is the old story about the plant expert that charged 99 cents for taping on a console with a small hammer and $999.99 for knowing where to tap.
Klein is incredibly readable for an academic and makes lots of use of case studies in the book. Fascinating.
More comments on my views of the booK:
Gary Klein would be the first to say that some of his concepts are a work in process and NDM (Naturalistic Decision making) is not just one man or one concept such as RPM (Recognition-primed decision model). Klein begins the dialog on the nature of decision making and how it can be incorporated into decision support systems and knowledge based systems. I believe knowledge based applications will be the trend in the next ten years or so and lots of money will be wasted when one does not properly consider the cognitive issues involved in development.
Some may say that Gary is guilty of stating the obvious but all too often the obvious is ignored because...well it's obvious. Also, lab rats and college students are not necessarily what/who you need to study when looking at how experienced decision makers make decisions. NDM (naturalistic decision making) offers an alternative to the rational choice strategy (see Herbert A. Simon). In the rational choice strategy the decision maker:
1. Identifies the set of options
2. Identifies the ways of evaluating these options.
3. Weights each evaluation dimension.
4. Does the rating
5. Picks the options with the highest score.
Throughout the book Gary shows that the rational choice strategy is seldom used by experienced decision makers. One alternative to this framework is NDM and one instance of this is RPM. For those not versed in cognitive science, RPM may offer an easy to understand content validation on how experts make decisions:
* It appears to describe the decision strategy used most frequently by people with experience.
* It explains how people can use experience to make difficult decisions.
* It demonstrates that people can make effective decisions without using a rational choice strategy.
Can RPM's logic be incorporated into command and control and decision support systems? DoD has examples where that has been done.
I think the biggest issue is no decision model (good or bad) is brought into the design and left up to the IT developers and programmers who certainly do not have the decision skills to embed that knowledge. Too often the decision makers have been left out of the equation because it was thought to be more of an IT thing and the result is a failed information system. As Klein states:
"Too often software designers are not told what key decisions are that the system must help the operator or heuristics that the operator is likely to use. Left without any way to visualize the operator, designers do the best job they can to pack information onto screens so that it will all be there when needed."
Many users of DSS and KM have been victims of such a process of "packing/" Those that do use some decision model, often tend to select optimization models which may have their place but may not be relevant to the context and type of decision maker that will use the system. These types of optimization models tend to be more useful for junior decision makers but there can be a case made that optimization models could be used to bring experienced people out of a certain mind set.
Klein edited an earlier book written by various practitioners if you are interested in delving further but I think "Sources of Power" gives you a good overview of NDM. What I like about NDM is the fact that extensive work has been done with experienced decision makers. Decision making is messy and you can't just "study" it with student test subjects on campus in my opinion.
Decision making is a personal thing that is also influenced by context for example the emotional stress sometimes linked with decision making under crises. Gary Klein in a sense says that you can't ignore that emotion because decision making is personal and any IT support has to be in harmony with the decision maker(s). These questions should be asked and discussed and certainly NDM is but one concept in the vast world of decision making theory that goes beyond the basic decision model of Herbert A. Simon.